Broncos Update Insider - 12/14

The Tim Tebow talk is only getting louder in Denver. However, the biggest question shouldn't be if the quarterback should play but whether can he function wholly within the Broncos' system -- especially this week.

Denver travels to inhospitable Oakland for a rematch with the Raiders, who put a 59-14 thumping on the Broncos in October.

"You can't just throw anybody in there. You have to be prepared and ready to win the game," backup running back Lance Ball said, responding to the growing Tebow chants from outside the organization. "It's easier to call names out when you're out in the crowd, but when you're in the trenches, it's a different story.

"I mean, maybe it would make him better, maybe not. You never know."

Interim coach Eric Studesville at his Monday press conference named Kyle Orton the starter despite the player's huge struggles the past two weeks that have included just a 40 percent completion rate, 283 total passing yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

But after what seemed like a firm commitment, Studesville did some dancing on the subject when peppered with Tebow questions.

"I can't see into the future," he said. "But we'll go through the day and evaluate our team and where we are, and we'll game-plan (Tuesday) and have all the conversations that we need to have to discover the best direction to go for us to go. Until we have those conversations and talk those things through, I don't know any more than that."

He also talked about respect for the game, integrity and a responsibility to put the best team on the field.

Reading between the lines, it may be that the organization believes Tebow simply isn't ready yet for full-time duties.

If there were a perfect opportunity to play the rookie, it might be the Dec. 26 home game vs. Houston. With fan interest waning, it would put fannies in the seats, the day after Christmas no less, against one of the NFL's worst pass defenses.

Orton, for his part, refuses to come off the field even while battling sore ribs. He has made it clear he wants to remain under center for the duration of what is one of the Broncos' most miserable seasons in decades.

"We've got to get back in rhythm in the passing game, get it going here the next three weeks and finish strong," Orton said.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The latest embarrassment to hit the Broncos organization cropped up last week with the arrest of cornerback Perrish Cox on a felony sexual assault charge.

But after three series, Cox was inserted into Sunday's game and played extensively on defense and special teams.

The team issued a pregame statement saying that it possessed only "limited authority" to impose discipline under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

As a result, Cox was heavily fined and will await word on further penalties from the league stemming from its personal-conduct policy.

"I visited with him Saturday morning and talked to the captains," interim coach Eric Studesville said. "Then I spoke with (owner Pat) Bowlen. ... We made the decision as an organization we were fine with him playing in the game."

--One of the more interesting quotes to come out of the locker room Sunday in Arizona was given to a Denver Post reporter, when linebacker Mario Haggan talked about his team's effort in the 43-13 loss.

"We'll have to look at the film and see if everyone gave it all they had. There are some question marks, I will say that," Haggan said.

Denver's defense did hang tough in the first half despite four first-half turnovers putting the unit in poor situations. But with Arizona pushing its lead to 22-3 on the first play of the fourth quarter, things unraveled.

Tim Hightower had a 41-yard scamper to set up his own 8-yard score. The next series, Hightower went off left tackle for a 35-yard TD. Arizona finished with 211 rushing yards.

"I'm not going to stand here and believe that any man in that locker room gave up. I don't believe that," Studesville said. "I don't believe that's the quality of individuals we have in that locker room. And I don't believe that's in the character of our players. I don't believe that. I believe we gave everything we can at that moment to do everything we could in that football game."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--S Darcel McBath (thigh) practiced in limited fashion all last week but was ruled out after pregame warmups Sunday. Interim coach Eric Studesville said Monday the team expects McBath to return against Oakland, and that could be critical at a thin position.

--S Kyle McCarthy was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. The Broncos did not immediately make a corresponding roster move.

--PK Matt Prater is not expected to be out for the long term, but his status remains up in the air for the Oakland game. Steven Hauschka filled in for Prater on Sunday, making two of three field-goal attempts.

--RB Lance Ball continues to serve as the primary backup to Knowshon Moreno, and he has a good chance of staying on the roster when OTAs roll around. The news likely won't be as rosy for Laurence Maroney, deactivated for a fifth straight game following two DNP designations. Correll Buckhalter's role also has been reduced.

--S Brian Dawkins was still wearing a lengthy protective sleeve on his injured knee last week. Studesville has said he expects Dawkins back this season but couldn't commit to the veteran making it back for practices this week.



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